Set in post-war Germany, the international bestseller The Aftermath by Rhidian Brook is a stunning emotional thriller about our fiercest loyalties and our deepest desires. In the bitter winter of 1946, Rachael Morgan arrives with her only remaining son Edmund in the ruins of Hamburg.
Here she is reunited with her husband Lewis, a British colonel charged with rebuilding the shattered city.
But as they set off for their new home, Rachael is stunned to discover that Lewis has made an extraordinary decision: they will be sharing the grand house with its previous owners, a German widower and his troubled daughter.
In this charged atmosphere, enmity and grief give way to passion and betrayal. 'Profoundly moving, beautifully written. Ponders issues of decency, guilt and forgiveness' Independent 'Terrific.
Suspicion, resentment and misunderstanding haunt this city.
Richly atmospheric' Sunday Telegraph 'An extraordinary read' Daily Mail
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 336 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
- Publication Date: 31/07/2014
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780241957479
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Review by AdonisGuilfoyle
A predictable but powerful story about a British officer who takes his family to live with him in Germany after the Second World War. Inspired by the author's own family history, the co-habitation of two families, English and German, in a requisitioned house is nicely built upon, examining the personal ghosts of Lewis Morgan, who finds relating to the Germans easier than talking to his wife, Rachael, in mourning for their eldest son. Stefan Luter and his daughter Freda must also come to terms with the situation, banished to the top floor of their own house. Of course, the stereotypical characters start to form unlikely alliances - Rachael and Stefan are brought together through grief and loneliness, while Freda and the Morgan's son Edmund are drawn to the children of the rubble, orphans living in the bombed ruins of Hamburg.Although the characters seem to drift along for much of the novel, both families are sympathetic, if not likeable. I would have preferred more of a twist to the tale - apart from a secondary character, everyone seems to conform to expectations - but the ending is satisfactory, if open-ended. The setting, though, and the sense of time and place, really made this a remarkable novel for me - the 'lost boys' of the rubble, shaken by the bombings and stripped of the innocence of childhood, and the civilian labour required to clear away the debris and the bodies beneath are starkly portrayed.